Mildly Annoying

I have some pet peeves.  Nothing major, just things that drive me nuts.  For example, when I go to write with one of those clickable ball-point pens and the tip is already extended but I click it anyway because one would assume that it was retracted by the last person to use the pen and GGGGAAAAAAHHHHH!!  That horrible feeling of the plastic end of the pen scraping the paper.  That’s worse than fingers on a chalkboard.



Another peeve?  People that replace the toilet paper roll incorrectly.  The paper MUST drape over the outside, people.  There should never be a roll of paper between me and the next sheet, which seems to be hanging out surreptitiously in the shadows, leaning against the wall like some drug pusher.  “Pssst…hey, bub!  Wanna wipe?”

It's like he's mocking you.  Wipe that smug look off his face.  With your ass!

It’s like he’s mocking you. Wipe that smug look off his face. With your ass!

Such occurrences are rare, however.  Easily forgotten about until they rear their ugly, annoying heads.  The three things I’m going to mention below are things that genuinely anger me, and there’s not a damn thing to be done about them.  I think that’s why they vex me so:  it’s like the universe itself wants to hurt my feelings.  Starting with…

People In the Movies Never Say “Goodbye” on the Phone

This is something my Sweet Baby once pointed out to me, and ever since she did it has driven me up the FREAKIN’ WALL.  Here’s a snippet of made-up dialogue from oh, I don’t know, let’s say Dexter.

DEB, INTO HER CELL PHONE: Hey, Dex!  We got a lead on that Trinity Killer thing with the bathtub and whatnot.

DEXTER, ONE HIS PHONE IN THE KILL ROOM: Oh, hey!  So, what do you know?

DEB: Not much.  Turns out the killer kills people in threes.  And sometimes in bathtubs or something.

DEXTER: Wow, that sounds great!  I’ll be right there!


I mean, as an aspiring writer, I can appreciate the need to keep the story moving.  Momentum.  Transitioning from one scene to another. Whatever.  But when something breaks me out of the artificial reality of the scene, it’s ruined.  Like when an actor is miscast.  If the audience keeps thinking “Wow.  George Clooney is actually playing Batman” instead of “Go get ’em, Bats!” then you’ve failed as a filmmaker.

"What do you MEAN our series finale sucked? Whelp, gotta go!  Bye!"

“What do you MEAN our series finale sucked? Whelp, gotta go! Bye!”

In real life, people say “bye” at the very least.  We’ve all been in the situation with our significant other that goes something like this:

ME: Okay, I’ll just stop by the store on the way home.

SWEET BABY: Okay!  Talk to you later!

ME: Okay!  I love you!

SWEET BABY: I love you too!  Have a great day!

ME: Okay, you too! Talk to you later!

SWEET BABY: Okay!  Bye!

ME: Bye!  I love you!

SWEET BABY: I love you, too!

ME: Bye!


CLICK!  AND SCENE!!  That sort of exchange can go on and on and on, especially if you’re newly in-love with someone and neither of you wants to hang up.  Such conversations admittedly don’t move the story forward. Unless the story is a romantic comedy, the screenwriter can’t afford to spare the ten minutes of dialog to a banal kissy-faced bit of the mundane. But to assume that two people that love each other AREN’T GOING TO AT LEAST SAY ‘GOODBYE?”  That’s ludicrous.


“WHAAAAAT?!?!” you’re saying.  You’re saying this because you know I love ol’ webs.  He’s my favorite single superhero.  That’s saying a lot. I loves me some X-Men, Batman, Avengers, Luke Cage, so on and so forth.  But Spidey is the king.

So, what exactly is the problem?  The name.  Spider-Man.  Or, more specifically, the way people screw it up.  See that little dash in between the first word and the second?  That’s called a “hyphen.”  And when we write Spider-Man’s name, class, we must always remember that it’s hyphenated.

Not Spiderman.  Not Spider Man.  Spider-Man.

At least Bats can always use Bruce Wayne's steely jawline as a hyphen in a pinch.

At least Bats can always use Bruce Wayne’s steely jawline as a hyphen in a pinch.

I know it’s nit-picky.  I know.  It’s like remembering which letters to capitalize in GLaDOS.  Tricky.  But also simple.  Batman?  Hell, I think the sky’s the limit with his name.  It’s appeared on comic covers as Bat Man or Batman.  On rare occasions, we get to include the article “the.”  The Batman.  Sure, they prefer you compound-word that bitch all proper-like.  BATMAN. But whatevs.  The Dark Knight is flush with cash and ain’t care.

Please just give ol’ Spidey some respect.  Spell it right, please.  Thank you.

Bad Drivers/The Tea Party

I’m lumping these together because they are both terribly stupid, selfish, and ignorant.  They also share a love of stupid bumper stickers.  Both groups are awful people who either refuse to learn the rules of politeness and decency or just refuse to employ them.  Driving too slow in the left-hand lane (or too slow in general, as I have zero patience for people who don’t exceed the speed limit.  Seriously, people; speed.  Speed, all the time.  We’ve got places to be) or shouting about “The Benghazi” without even knowing what the hell the fuss is all about.  Mouth breathing, FOX “News” watching turds.  That’s what all of these people are, and I want to fill a landfill with their useless corpses.  Fuck ’em.  Fuck ’em all.

I'm sure he meant that a nice way.

I’m sure he meant that in…uh…in a nice way.

Okay, it got a little dark there at the end, but now you know what bugs me.  Of course, many of you will now use this information to completely ruin my day.  Fair enough.  When you call to gloat, just remember to say “bye.”

You Need A Montage!

I was on a trip with my amazingly beautiful and alluring Sweet Baby recently when a Howard Jones song came up on the radio.  I believe it was “No One Is To Blame” but hell,  I don’t know if that’s the proper title or not.  Ol’ Howard is one of those guys that you sort of forget about or end up confusing with Bruce Hornsby or Simply Red, so I’m sort of out of my element.  I do, however, remember looking him up on the interwebs and having a Eureka! moment when I realized that this was the genius behind one of my all-time favorite movie montages.  And that got me thinking (a rarity, I’ll admit) and I waxed nostalgic with the old lady about the wonderful bounty of montages in 80’s cinema.  Sure, the montage is still used today.  Tony Stark assembling his first suit in Iron Man is a great example.  But that particular bit of fast-forwad exposition (which is really all a montage scene is) lacks something special:  the montage song!  THAT is what makes the 80’s scenes so great (or not-so-great, as we’ll discover below)…it’s (almost always) all about the SONG!!

The problem for me, the blogger, is that many of these songs are under strictly-guarded copyrights, and thus many of the YouTube videos end up being bad bootlegs.  But for the sake of evidence, we’ll do the best we can, eh?  My first example is a great example of how a weak song can render the montage unremarkable.  This clip (taped via camcorder, apparently) is from one of my all-time favorite movies, Real Genius.  The setup:  Chris Knight and company have finals looming and a laser power-source problem to fix and something about a crooked professor and his toadie, and well, here we go…

That song is horrible.  You can tell it wants to be Howard Jones…but it ISN’T.  No, that’s Chaz Jenkel, which sounds like a villain that Peter Parker might square off against in Chaz’s secret identity as The Magnicutioner or somesuch. Chaz is all actuality a guy who used to play with Ian Drury.  “Who?”  Exactly.  An otherwise decent storytelling device ruined by THE MAGNICUTIONER!!

Now THIS is how it’s done.  Again, apologies for the weird sound of a guy hammering tent stakes (or something) in the background.  Ladies and gentlemen, another of my favorite flicks, the classic Better Off Dead.  Cusack’s Lane Meyer gets help from the foreign-exchange hottie (who was one of Bill & Ted’s princesses, no less!) and ends up with some self-esteem and a case of the IN-LOVES!!!

That song?  Howard Jones.  Not one of his “hits” on radio, mind you, but that’s not the point.  It fit.  Lyrically tied to the events on-screen, a tempo that suggested a sense of urgency…it fits.  It works.  That’s why this scene is near the top of any 80’s montage list (and there must be DOZENS of such lists!  Right?  Hello?)  But it ain’t the tops.  Nor is this one from Over The Top.

Okay, now we have the opposite problem.  The Real Genius clip had a mediocre song that kept it out of contention.  This clip, however, features the stirring “Winner Takes it All” by the Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar.  Good stuff.  However, the scenes depicted during the montage?  Fucking stupid.  There’s no variety.  The lighting is all rather dark.  I can’t tell who’s who. There’s WAAAYYYY too much lens flare for a movie about arm wrestling.  Sure, I get that the bad guy is big and wears a red sleeveless t-shirt, but the other–WHY IS THAT KID DRIVING A TRUCK ON THE FREEWAY?!?  The prosecution rests.

Now, this next scene is the runner-up in my book.  A lot of folks have it at Number One, but I’ll explain my logic after you watch this bit of genius from Rocky IV.

See, this one has EVERYTHING!  A great juxtaposition of the hero getting gritty whilst the enemy relies on fancy gizmos and steroid-filled needles.  And it culminates in Rocky LITERALLY climbing a peak!  THAT’S INSPIRATIONAL, MOTHERFUCKER!!  And the song “Hearts on Fire” by none other than John Cafferty (of the Beaver Brown Band!) is decent, hopeful, and compelling.  The problem?  Take a gander at the length of this clip.  It’s almost seven minutes long.  SEVEN MINUTES!! It’s roughly one-seventeenth of the whole movie!!  Hell, Cafferty doesn’t even start singing until three-plus minutes in!  Stallone movies often have a decent montage or two, so maybe he just wanted this to be his magnum opus.  And it’s close: pare this baby down to a good four-minute cutscene and you’ve got the best montage in movie history.  But that title, my friends, belongs to Daniel-san.

This montage is brilliant in that simply by watching it, you want to go back and sit through The Karate Kid it its entirety.  It’s really a mini-movie in and of itself.  So wonderfully directed and acted.  The reactions of the players involved, including the sometimes TERRIFIED look that Ralph Macchio wears through most of the scene. Pat Morita’s quiet disapproval.  The shock on the faces of the Cobra Kai as they are eliminated.  And that’s another nice touch:  you really get to see the entire tournament play out, and it would be easy to depict the Cobra Kai as a totally unstoppable crew of bad-asses that Daniel must hack his way through on the way to an epic boss battle.  The filmakers wisely take a more realistic approach, and we see several of the bad kids fall in the preliminary rounds.  That makes it seem so much more real (real enough to feature a sort-of-fat Cobra Kai get trounced) and as we all know, the more realistic the scene, the more real and tangible the danger.  It’s brilliant.  It’s perfect enough that the Cartoon Network’s delightful Regular Show used the same song by THE Joe Esposito (?) for their own training montage to hilarious effect.

So, kids…what did I miss?  Leave a comment and point out any other brilliance I may have overlooked!

Star Wars Gets You Pregnant

You know how they say that all geeks really think about is sex?  That’s partially true.  But the way we think about sex is often decidedly non-standard.  We even have our thoughts drift to the theoretical nature of it all;  sex, life, the universe itself, and, well…Star Wars. It’s just what we do. I’m not sure where this particular thought came from or why, and I’m surely not the ONLY person who’s ever noticed this, but what follows is my attempt to collect some evidence to support the finer points of this particular theory in greater detail.  Okay.  Deep breath.  Ready?

The Death Star destruction scene in the original Star Wars: A New Hope is really a depiction of baby-makin’.  Fertilization.  Yep.

Let’s begin with the “briefing” scene.  A bunch of dudes sitting and getting a lecture about the exhaust port, which leads to the belly of the beast.  You hit this thing right and she’ll LITERALLY explode.  Uh-huh.  Tell me this isn’t similar to every sex-ed class you ever had, amirite, bros?

And here, gentlemen, is what we call "the clitoris."

And here, gentlemen, is what we call “the clitoris.”

And let’s talk about those “penetrating” snub fighters.  I mean,  there’s the obvious chromosomal suggestion:  Seriously, it ain’t even subtle.  A swarm of tiny fighters are attacking this big orb, trying desperately to penetrate its defenses.  Oh, and those tiny fighters (many of whom will dash themselves against the impenetrable shell) are X-wing and Y-wing fighters.  Yeah.  Like this…



And also this…



And then there are the other rather obvious references, such as…ahem…

This is LITERALLY just the tip.

This is LITERALLY just the tip.

Or the plight of poor Porkins.  See, he couldn’t pull out (up) in time, and…yeah.

Even worse?  They came from behind.

Even worse? They came from behind.

And then, when Luke finally delivers his explosive payload down the chute (I feel so terribly filthy writing this) this is the result…



Fireworks. That’s what they used to use as a metaphor in old movies and television.  Fireworks!  Also?  You could say that there’s a “Big O” in the sky there.  Whew!  An exciting CLIMAX to this movie, yes?  All those little guys swarming in a long trench and OH MY GOD WHY DID I START WRITING THIS?!?!  Also?  Darth Vader’s helmet.  STOP ME, SOMEONE!!  And the lightsabers.  Ever seen a male dog get frisky?  See, it’s like this little lipstick, and what happens is…NO!!  I REFUSE!!   Princess LAY-ya.  And on and on.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not the pervert here.  Lucas  George M. F. Lucas.  He’s the motherfucker.  And think how dirty this movie would’ve been if he’d had access to the CGI.  Thank the maker!